Book Larder Baking Class

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I found a new favorite spot in Seattle.

It’s a bookstore called Book Larder, where they only carry cookbooks and do things like host baking classes based on pie cookbooks, taught by local pastry chefs.

Could Seattle be the promised land? 

Time will tell.

Last week I went to a baking class at Book Larder and it was a blast. It’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t have minded doing alone in Denver (in fact, I did do it in Denver just before I left, with the lovely Shauna of The Long I Pie), but for some reason I was a bit nervous about doing it alone in this new city.

Most of the time I still feel like an outsider, and I’m constantly anxious that everyone can tell just by looking at me that I'm new here. Rationally I know that couldn’t possibly be the case, but given that I have to rely on my phone to get pretty much anywhere, it's hard not to think about it. A tiny part of me worried that I'd show up to pie class and not know the local pie secrets and then everyone would be unfriendly and make me wish we'd never left Denver. I'm a grown-up, though, and I'm determined not to let fear keep me from doing the things I want to do.

What happened was that I had a great time. The store was as cool as I imagined it would be, the teacher was a total pro, and the mother and daughter sitting next to me have lived in my neighborhood for decades. They gave me all the insider tips I needed: which dry cleaner to use, which grocery store is the best, which restaurants have been around long enough to stand the test of time and become their favorites. I considered asking them for their phone numbers, but I didn’t want to come on too strong.

I suppose Ponyboy (the original outsider) was onto something when he pointed out that we all see the same sunset. Last week I found a sunset in the form of a place where people come together over pie, surrounded by books, and it made me feel a little bit less like an outsider. 

Discuss

Hey! Happy Friday! We're just wrapping up our first week with a couch in our apartment and it's been so good. I didn't realize how much not having a comfortable place to sit and relax would affect my mental well-being until we had to do without one for, like, five weeks. Whew. We're thankful we found this one and that we get to sit on it whenever we want. It's pretty comfy. Okay, here are some of my favorite things from The Internet lately - just for you. Enjoy! 

A slightly more impressive World Cup.

This made me chuckle.

"The chaperones admitted later to a district investigator that they hadn't even read the district's field trip guidelines, which recommend checking on students until they're asleep." - Lord have mercy, this filled me with rage and sadness.

What fun.

I'm very interested in this.

Denver, keeping company with Boston, New York, Chicago, and LA.

Seattle things I learned about this week: Jorge Hernandez, Glamp Weekend (!), CHBP

Have At It: Chicken Caesar Salad

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Since it’s summertime, I figure now is probably a good time to share my dad’s most popular salad recipe. For as long as I can remember, chicken caesar salad as a meal has been a major even at my parents’ house, intended for celebrations and big family get-togethers. It was the meal I requested for my birthday dinner every year when I was growing up - and most years since, too. My birthday is next month, so I’ll wait until then to share the my dad’s recipes for homemade croutons and the cheesy garlic bread he pairs with this salad. There will be a lot of butter involved.

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According to my dad, a man named Glen Coffey first taught him how to make a traditional caesar salad when he was 14 or 15 years old. Glen Coffey and his wife were best friends with my dad’s folks, the sort of friends who took family camping trips together in the summertime and taught each other’s kids how to cook. Until I started asking him about it, I had no idea my dad had been making caesar salad for 75% of his life. 

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It will come as no surprise, though, that my dad also once had a job as the captain of a team of food service professionals at a restaurant called Rafael’s, where he made caesar salads table side for his customers. He worked that job in addition to a regular 9 to 5 when I was a kid, but I have zero recollection of it. He told me about it over the phone last night as though it were something I should remember, but I think I was just too small. It’s consistent with what I’ve always known about my dad’s work ethic, though; he was never above doing any job to take care of his family, and I’ve always respected him for it. He’s a good dad.    

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken (this marinade recipe is actually from my mom’s mom and my tiny baby niece's namesake, Vera Forte)

Ingredients:

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1/4 cup of water

2 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 tablespoon of minced onion

Directions: 

1) Mix everything but the chicken together to combine, then add the chicken and marinate for at least 4 hours.

2) Grill the chicken, then slice it up for topping the salad.

Salad

Ingredients:

2 heads of romaine lettuce cleaned and broken by hand - don’t cut it

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

2/3 cup of olive oil 

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar 

1.5 inch squeeze of anchovy paste (Or if you really want to get fancy, mush anchovies in olive oil to make the paste yourself like my dad did when he was the team captain at Rafael's.)

1 clove of minced garlic

A "pfst" (pretty sure this is the same as a dash) of lemon juice

Directions: 

1) Combine everything but the lettuce and parmesan in a jar with a lid that screws on. Shake it an hour before dressing the salad, then several times before serving.

2) Sprinkle the parmesan over the lettuce.

3) Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss it together.

4) Coddle an egg. My dad does this by placing an egg in a mug, running it under hot water for 3-5 minutes (of course, he just instinctively "knows" when it's done). The goal is to get the inside of the egg warm and sticky, then separate it and keep the yolk.

5) Beat the egg yolk, drizzle it over the salad, then toss the salad again.

6) Plate it up, throw some chicken in the mix, and eat yourself silly. It's salad. It's good for you.

One of my goals for 2014 is to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figure if nothing else, it will give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I have to write them myself. 

Previous Have At It Posts:

Reese's Rice Krispie Treats

Tacos and Salsa

Dutchbabies

Bean Dip Poppers

Goldrush Cookies

Books I Bought

After I returned my last library book in Denver, I found myself at Tattered Cover a couple of times, justifying my need for new books since who knew when I would get a library card in Seattle and be able to check out books again? I picked up Why We Broke Up the day of the bake sale field trip and The Circle a couple of nights later after celebrating my last day of school during happy hour at The Rio.

Then I added Divergent to my cart one day at Target because I figured if I'm going to call myself an adolescent literacy advocate, I should probably be keeping up with what the kids are reading.

Then I went ahead and ordered The Vacationers and Poking A Dead Frog online even after I got my library card here in Seattle - mostly because there are so many holds on both and I want to read them RIGHT NOW.

So I finished Why We Broke Up (it was good, but probably not appropriate for all teen readers) and started The Circle (it's fascinating - I'm almost finished) and then the books I placed holds on at the library started arriving at my local branch for me to pick up and I somehow ended up with eight library books as well. So I've got some reading to do.

Have you read any of the books in the pile? Did you buy any of them to keep forever?  

PS: Are you on Goodreads? Let's be friends!